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November 1, 2019 4:17 PM

President's committee to establish mental health strategy

Conestoga’s Student Mental Health Strategy team has completed initial stages in developing actionable priorities to help optimize student learning and success. The initiative, launched earlier this year, aims to create a campus environment that supports mental health and well-being.

Beginning March 2019, Conestoga students and employees across college campuses were consulted over a two-month period to better understand how mental health is impacted by or impacts the campus environment and learning experience. Through focus groups, surveys, and in-depth and short burst interviews, more than 4,500 responses were collected to help inform the strategy’s development. 

The findings were presented to both Conestoga students and employees at town hall events in October. According to Heather Callum, student wellness project manager, eight themes emerged from the consultations where stakeholders shared that better addressing student mental health and wellness should include

  • easier access to the right services at the right place and at the right time,
  • improved communication and navigation tools,
  • less stigma around mental health,
  • more learning and skill-building around mental health and wellness,
  • spaces and facilities that support and encourage wellness,
  • employees that are resourced and confident to support well-being,
  • working as one team to support students, and
  • institutional policies and processes that foster well-being.

As a next step, a cross-college committee has been established to prioritize findings, make recommendations and develop a plan to implement action items.  

“The President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health will use the extensive feedback gathered through consultation earlier this year to guide the development of a mental health strategy,” said Callum. “Ultimately, the strategy will be created by a diverse committee that includes students and employees that represent many different areas of the college.”

Callum will serve as co-chair along with Samantha Brandt, associate chair of nursing post-grad programs. Representatives from the college’s official student association, Conestoga Students Inc., will also sit on the committee. Implementation of actionable priorities is expected to begin in the new year.

A full review of stakeholder consultation findings and next steps can be viewed through the employee town hall on student mental health video.

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